AAG Presentation: iLearn

I’ll be presenting “iLearn: Space, Time and Social (Re)Production in Young People’s Informational Environments” tomorrow at the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers in Seattle. If you’re attending the AAG, stop on by!

Beyond School: Geographies of Informal and Alternative Learning Practices II

Grand Ballroom C – Sheraton Hotel, Second Floor

Tuesday, 4/12/2011, from 2:40 PM – 4:20 PM

Presentation Title/Abstract:
iLearn: Space, Time and Social (Re)Production in Young People’s Informational Environments

This presentation will draw on, a participatory action research project with New York City youth ages 14-19, to unpack the reciprocity between informational development and contemporary geographies of education. The near ubiquitous presence of cyberspace in young people’s everyday life has both compressed and expanded the space of the ‘traditional’ school and the time in which ‘formal’ learning occurs. Amidst the current transition from industrial to informational capitalism within the U.S., this space-time compression and expansion provides both opportunities for youth empowerment as well as domination. How contemporary spatialities, materialities, and practices of informationalism become produced and reproduced in young people’s everyday learning will be discussed as will the role of securitization in formalizing the boundaries, relationships, and flows that operate between ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ spaces of education. This presentation will conclude with a discussion of the participatory action research methods developed to investigate such (re)production as well as strategies for reworking educational boundaries, relationships, and flows towards young people’s situated interests and concerns.

Call for Participation: Seeks NYC Youth Ages 14-19 is a participatory action research project focused on the interests and concerns of young people growing up in digital environments. The research project is looking for young people ages 14-19 living in New York City, for both Research Participants and Youth Co-Researchers.

  • Research Participants take part in a one-time 90 minute interview at the CUNY Graduate Center in midtown Manhattan and receive a free movie ticket.
  • Youth Co-Researchers help develop an open-source social network that investigates the common concerns and interests voiced in interviews with Research Participants and receive training in qualitative research methods and digital media production, as well as a
    $10 per hour stipend.

All participation is confidential. The Graduate Center of the City University of New York’s Institutional Review Board has approved this research.


Robbins on Political Ecology as Critique

From Political Ecology, p12-13:

As critique, political ecology seeks to expose flaws in dominant approaches to the environment favored by corporate, state, and international authorities, working to demonstrate the undesirable impacts of policies and market conditions , especially from the point of view of local people, marginal groups, and vulnerable populations. It works to “denaturalize” certain social and environmental conditions, showing them to be the contingent outcomes of power, and not inevitable.

… In this sense, political ecology is something that people do, a research effort to expose the forces at work in ecological struggle and document livelihood alternatives in the face of change.

Escobar on the Political Ecology of Technonature

From After Nature, p13:

A definition of political ecology for technonature would emphasize the biocultural configurations that are emerging and those that are possible according to particular constellations of actors, technologies, and practices. The political ecology of technonature would study the actual and potential biocultural arrangements linked to technoscience, particularly along the axes of organicity-artiflciality and reality-virtuality. It would examine discourses and practices of life and the extent to which they are conducive to new natures, social relations, and cultural practices. It is important that the ethnographies of technonature not focus on elite contexts only or on their impact on nonelite communities; they should also explore the locally constituted cultural and material resources that marginalized communities are able to mobilize for their adaptation or hybridization in the production of their identities and political strategies

Castells on Environmentalism and Ecology

From The Power of Identity (The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture, Volume II), pp 112-113:

By environmentalism I refer to all forms of collective behavior that, in their discourse and in their practice, aim at correcting destructive forms of relationship between human action and its natural environment, in opposition to the prevailing structural and institutional logic. By ecology, in my sociological approach, I understand a set of beliefs, theories, and projects that consider humankind as a component of a broader ecosystem and wish to maintain the system’s balance in a dynamic, evolutionary perspective.

In my view, environmentalism is ecology in practice, and ecology is environmentalism in theory . . .

From The Power of Identity (The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture, Volume II), p 133:

The ecological approach to life, to the economy, and to the institutions of society emphasizes the holistic character of all forms of matter, and of all information processing. Thus, the more we know, the more we sense the possibilities of our technology, and the more we realize the gigantic, dangerous gap between our enhanced productive capacities, and our primitive, unconscious, and ultimately destructive social organization.

Latour on Political Ecology

From the Politics of Nature, p246:

The term does not differentiate between scientific ecology and political ecology; it is built on the model of (but in opposition to) “political economy.” It is thus used to designate, by opposition to the “bad” philosophy of ecology, the understanding of ecological crises that no longer uses nature to account for the tasks to be accomplished, it’s used as an umbrella term to account for what succeeds modernism according to the alternative “modernize or ecologize.”

From the Politics of Nature, p4:

Political ecology is said to have to do with “nature in its links with society.” But this nature becomes knowable through the intermediary of the sciences; it has been formed through networks of instruments; it is defined through the interventions of professions, disciplines, and protocols; it is distributed via data bases; it is provided with arguments through the intermediary of learned societies.

Google the Gate Keeper

A reminder that Google doesn’t really search “the web,” just a relatively narrow slice of it. From Threat Level:

The homepage of Pirate Bay disappeared from Google’s search results Friday, after Google allegedly received a DMCA takedown notice targeting the site.

The move is unexpected because, while the Pirate Bay is rife with pirated material, the site’s spare landing page contains no content to speak of — just links, a logo and a search box. By law, DMCA notices are targeted to specific infringing content.

I increasingly hear the students I work with (and a good deal of the faculty) use Google as a synonym for the web, much as how Kleenex is has become another word for tissue. It’s similar with Googling and  surfing (e.g. one might say “I was Googling David Bowie last night” when they were actually surfing Bowie fansites with little or no use of Google). Of course, no such equivalence exists — Google is a gated community. There is a boundary drawn between the regions of the web that Google (and other major search engines) will index, and the regions they won’t. What they don’t index, we likely don’t see.

That there is proprietary decision-making behind what information is — and is not — indexed, and that we — as a society — are increasingly loosing our ability to even recognize this indexing is a cause for great concern. Expecting Google to make their gate keeping an open and transparent process is ludicrous. Google is for profit, and dreaming up a contorted “free-market” rational for how it could be in Google’s best business interest to be transparent is a dead end. Google makes billions by controlling access to information, and they aren’t going to give that up. Why should they?

But what if there were non-profit, or even for profit, search engines that focused on identifying and indexing all the information Google (et al) isn’t? At a minimum, having such options might at least make people conscious of the fact that the web is bigger than Google suggests.

Mitchell on the State

From Society, Economy, and the State Effect:

The line between state and society is not the perimeter of an intrinsic entity that can be thought of as a freestanding object or actor. It is a line drawn internally, within the network of institutional mechanisms through which a certain social and political order is maintained.

Geosniff (v.)

From Jonathon Keats, Wired 15.09:

To search the web by location, delivering regionally pertinent information to users and regionally pertinent users to advertisers.

Sandy Stone on Technoculture

From Will The Real Body Please Stand Up?:

I believe that technology and culture constitute each other, studying the actors and actants that make up our lively, troubling and productive technologies tells me about the actors and actants that make up our culture.

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